La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz is the highest city in South America. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, La Paz has its winter in July, which is when our team went there the first time. Its hilly terrain gives it an elevation which varies between 10,500 and 13,500 ft. ProsthetiKa volunteers found that none of the buildings had heat, so they wore layers of clothing and hats inside, outside, day, and night. Adjusting to the elevation was challenging, even with the prescribed Diamox to combat altitude sickness. But we did it, and it was well worth the challenge. Working at the Centro de Miembros Artificiales (Center of Artificial Limbs) in La Paz resulted in a mutually satisfying cultural and technological exchange. Never have we seen such resourcefulness at using, re-using, and adapting locally available materials to make all the raw materials needed for a prosthesis. ProsthetiKa mentors taught the techniques and principles for achieving a more comfortable and functionally fitting prosthetic socket. But when it came to making the other component parts, the prosthetic knees and feet, the locals left us wide-eyed as we watched them handcraft the parts, one by one. They explained the challenges they were having and the limitations they discovered in the techniques they were using. We brainstormed the problems together and helped them improve the limbs and braces they made.